Cured Meats
By Lydia on July 3, 2008 9:52 PM| | Comments (3)
There is a trick to the impromptu meal. My Grandmother doesn't want me telling you this (or talking about her at all,) but the secret is multiple kinds of really good mustard. Horseradish helps. With delicious condiments on hand, all you have to do is go to Union and hit up Nantucket for some sourdough, and Martha's for cheese or meat. OR BOTH!!!! if you are decadent, and NEITHER!!! if you are of the vegan ilk. (If vegan, disregard this post entirely, and just spread some avocado on toast to make a near-perfect lunch. My problem is that to make it my actually-perfect lunch you need to smear goat cheese on too...) In any event, the simplicity of good bread and some well-made animal products are hard to beat for picnics/traveling/when swarms of family descend on WMichigan demanding to be fed.

At my Grandma's yesterday we had quite the hors d'oeurves, boasting 3 kinds of thin-sliced pig and 2 cheeses. The capicola was good, but it won't ever be my favorite meat. The texture is oddly loose for me, and the though the flavor is delicious, kind of creeping the heat up on you, I just don't find it as satisfying to suck on. I think that good cured meat must be eaten plain. I like to tear small bits off with my fingers and suck on them. Whatever, its not that wierd. This applies to all your jamon serranos, your prosciuttos, and, I found out yesterday, your nuss schinkens. Nuss schinken, a German version of everyone's favorite cured mammal,  is dry-cured with salt, then smoked, and is served in paper-thin slices, a la serrano and prosciutto. The pigs, of course, are not your garden variety swine, and are fed a special acorn/nut diet. I guess everything tastes better when its own food tastes better! The meat is dense and silky, with a great salty/nutty flavor.

The remaining meat, something of the salumi class, was good, but ultimately forgettable in the presence of the German stuff. Cheese-wise I was quite happy with an unaged asiago, that was a departure from anything I've ever had stuck to the top of a Midwestern bagel. Texturally similar to a havarti, but flavorful, I'd like to have a second bite so I could actually tell you what it tasted like. I think the final player was a stilton, but I'm really going to have to start taking notes.

The great part? All these foods, served the next day with butter knives and mustard make lunch! Anything with mustard and bread makes lunch!

Another great post Lydia! I am also a sucker for the salted cured meats (although I don't suck ON them, you'll have to explain that.) This menu reminds me of the lunches I ate with German friends where we would enjoy chunks of meats, cheeses, bread, fruit and chocolate (and certainly mustard) cutting off small pieces and eating slowly over an hour and a half.

Keep the good stuff coming!

hi, lydia. i've been combing the shelves of gr for the best mustard for years. none has yet to beat dudek's polish mustard. it's from hamtramck. it's so good i could eat it plain (and have done so on several occasions). excellent with your favorite meats. as far as i know, it's only available at 20th century meat market. while you're there, buy some krakowska (known to westsiders as kraki). it's a fantastically garlicky cured meat.

Mrs. Dogs is the yummiest mustard EVER. it has the consistent of lemon curd (watch out for the egg yolks, vegans) and it is filled with tarragon vinegar and sweet/spicy goodness. Probably doesn't go well with all meats, as it has it's own distinctive flavor. It does go very nicely on a goat-cheese-and-veggie-sandwich. You can only get it at Martha's, Russo's, and Herman's Boy in Rockford.